Possible 10 years in prison for internet post to trick the stupid about election

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Jan 20, 2023.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    A man has been arrested and charged for "attempt to interfere with the 2020 presidential election" because he made an internet post on Twitter.
    The criminal charge carries the possibility of up to 10 years in prison.

    The picture had the words "Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text "Hillary" to 59925. Vote for Hillary and be part of history."

    The post seemed to be designed to mislead stupid voters into thinking that they could cast a vote for one particular candidate by making a simple text, to trick them so they would not cast a real official vote.

    This seems like almost a half joke to me. A voter would have to be incredibly stupid to believe they could vote with a simple text. The joke is that there are voters who vote for the Democrat Party who are so stupid that they could be tricked by this.

    It's unclear whether anyone was actually tricked by this, or how many were tricked.

    The judge and prosecutor seem to believe there were voters who may likely have been tricked by this.

    The man argues that he should not be facing criminal charges because it is free speech, but the judge is not buying that argument and is telling him he will have to face a jury.

    The trial will take place in the Eastern District of New York, which mostly just includes Long Island.

    It's possible the prosecutor might try to use other things the defendant posted on Twitter to try to bias the jury against him. (Allegedly he had posted "antisemitic" and racist "white nationalist" memes, the type of thing many in New York despise)

    Douglass Mackey Loses Bid to Toss Election Interference Case (lawandcrime.com)

    It seems like a slippery slope. Arresting people for an internet post.
    Adds to the growing list of things that are not protected under the U.S. First Amendment (free speech, freedom of the press).

    Those who are strongly in favor of individual liberties are reluctantly ambivalent about people being arrested for this sort of thing, when it just involves words that are publicly distributed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2023
  2. Jarlaxle

    Jarlaxle Banned

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    Should be broomed as a 1st Amendment issue.
     
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  3. Lil Mike

    Lil Mike Well-Known Member

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    This is a travesty of justice. They are trying to send him to jail for memes. It's noteworthy that the Justice Department sat on this case throughout the Trump administration, then as soon as Trump was out, they started there revenge-for-Hillary prosecution.
     
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  4. yardmeat

    yardmeat Well-Known Member

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    Unless they can pass it off as a joke, I don't see many courts upholding this as being protected by the 1st Amendment.
     
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  5. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Those on the Left have very different ideas about what individual rights should be than those on the Right.
    I'm sure there are many on both the Right, and the Left, who do not realize the full extent of the difference.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
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  6. cristiansoldier

    cristiansoldier Well-Known Member

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    I think this is an interesting case and I hope you follow it and post updates.

    I think it was your phrase "designed to mislead stupid voters" that shapes my feeling on this. When I see that description I think scammers. For example overseas scammers calling and telling the person they are Microsoft support and get them to allow access to their computer or the old Nigerian prince needs a place to transfer his fortune to because his government was overthrown and he will give you a percentage if you help him out. 99.9% of the people will never fall for these scams but if you watch youtube channels like Jim Browning you will seen that in thousands of robo calls or spam emails someone if going to be a victim and be out a lot of money. Usually it is the elderly who either are not tech savy or just too trusting.

    So for this case lets assume he has a .1% success rate. If that tweet gets a 100,000 view then 100 people could be tricked. I am totally guessing at the success rate but the idea behind scams like this it that it cost the person next to nothing similar to sending spam emails. So I tend to agree with the judge and prosecutor that people potentially could have been tricked by this.

    I think the other question that needs to be answer is what gain does this guy get from this scam. Obviously the phone scams and the email scams are trying to get people to send them money. You can argue this person is not seeking financial gain but maybe the prosecutor can argue that this person would be enriched in other ways such as the satisfaction from tricking these people or the potential to rig an election. I guess they could charge him with voter fraud like someone voting for a dead spouse or trying to cast more than one ballot except instead of making fraudulent votes he is taking away real votes.

    I think it will be interesting to see the outcome but my guess is they have a real case against this guy.
     
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  7. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    As you know, all speech is not protected. If this man had put his message on an automated phone dialing system, which then called people, & disseminated this false information, you would presumably have no trouble seeing that it would be an obvious violation of law (which it is, FYI). So we can toss out your insinuations of this being any kind of "slippery slope:" it is about speech, which precedent has established as illegal. The real issue here, is whether or not, tweeting something, on that public forum, essentially, is the same as yelling "fire," in a crowded theater.

    While I take your point, that no one, should trust anything they read, on Twitter, other than from an accredited news agency/reporter-- and even then, take it with a grain of salt-- you should be well aware, also, that
    millions of people do trust what they read, on Twitter. This is why Twitter has a responsibility, to censor posts. An alternative to that, might be to post a bold statement, on every page of Twitter, informing users that nothing they read has been verified, so that none of it should be trusted, on its own, to be true.

    I'm gonna guess, that you don't like either of those solutions. Neither would Elon Musk. So that's why we need a jury, to decide this case. Sorry, it's gotta be one of those three, as far as I can tell: the option of letting people raise havoc throughout society, because tens of millions are too dumb, not to be suspicious of most everything on Twitter, is not a legitimate, reasonable option.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
  8. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Tucker: It's time to bring home our troops, Fox News

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson blasted the Biden administration on Wednesday for their prosecution of a 31-year-old man behind a right-wing Twitter account that the Department of Justice claims committed "election interference" by spreading "disinformation", in part by "memes".

    "Mackey is a 31-year-old conservative journalist from Florida. At 7:00 a.m., FBI agents showed up at his house, they threw him in handcuffs, and they dragged him to a cell. He now faces 10 years in prison.
    His crime? He made fun of powerful Democrats on social media. As the federal criminal complaint puts it, 'Mackey made a coordinated use of social media to spread disinformation relative to the impending 2016 presidential election.' … This disinformation 'often took the form of memes.' Yes, memes: online mockery. Mockery online is now illegal when it's aimed at the wrong people. Doug Mackey hurt their feelings, so they put them in jail."

    "What is interesting is that prosecutors showed no evidence whatsoever that Doug Mackey actually tricked anyone into anything, voting or not, not a single person," Carlson said.

    Carlson also argued that Mackey did not even actually violate 18 U.S. Code section 241. "Joe Biden's Justice Department is lying in an obvious way and that should make you very nervous," he said. "It turns out that federal law does not ban memes, or for that matter, misinformation, whatever that is. The law that Biden's prosecutors citing instead prohibits 'conspiring to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidating anyone from exercising the right to vote.'"

    Amanda Prestigiacomo, Jan 28, 2021, DailyWire


    The United States Department of Justice announced that it has charged a Twitter user who allegedly spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential election using Twitter.

    Douglass Mackey of West Palm Beach, Florida, is accused of conspiring with others to spread election misinformation in 2016, which was designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote. He has been charged with violating the civil rights conspiracy statute and, if convicted, will face up to 10 years in prison.

    Twitter suspended Mackey's account several times for violating its terms of service. But on three separate occasions, Mackey returned with a separate account linked to the Ricky Vaughn alias.

    Mackey remained anonymous until The Huffington Post identified him in a 2018 expose. Mackey's alias was ranked among the top 150 influencers of the 2016 election, ranking 107.

    Twitter troll faces 10 years in prison for spreading vote-by-text hoax - The Verge, Taylor Lyles, Jan 27, 2021
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
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  9. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Perhaps, but I believe as many forms of speech as possible should be protected. Stay as far away from the ledge of the slippery slope as pragmatically possible.

    But in that case, the man would have had to make some more serious effort to bring the message to people. It's almost a little bit of a different thing bringing the message to people, rather than posting a message and letting people see it if they want to. Besides that, sending a message with an automated phone dialing system can often be illegal, for reasons having nothing to do with the message, but rather that the message is invasive and annoying, and is sent so easily to so many people.
    It seems like you're attempting to use emotion to make it look bad by comparing it to automated phone dialing system, without recognizing there are other valid reasons that exist why an automated phone dialing system can be bad and illegal, which do not apply to a Twitter post.

    Because phone dialing is more invasive and direct to the person receiving it, the content of the message could be held to a higher standard.

    I could talk more about how the principles of free speech intersect with automated phone dialing systems, but that would be a different topic, and probably a long discussion.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
  10. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    am perfectly fine with a person doing that getting a felony

    telling people the vote has been moved to a different location, time, sending false absentee ballots to people, etc should be a felony

    10 years would be a bit much in this case, but I support up to 10 for severe cases of it
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
  11. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    This is nothing but a smoke screen on your part: invasive or not, solicitors are permitted to use auto dialers, with recorded messages. Hence, your supposed counter-argument, is a straw man: what would make this man's message illegal, in the form I apparently over rated your ability to recognize established precedent, to see, would not be the dialer, but the misleading election information.

    You omitted the rest of my argument, comparing that patently illegal dissemination, to its promotion on Twitter, and examining the various ways, other than by jury trial, that this could be remediated: namely, by either giving Twitter, the responsibility of censoring out illegal content; or else by prominently posting a disclaimer, every few tweets, saying that nothing people see there should be considered as in the least bit accurate, since none of it, has been checked.

    You going to surrender, already?
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
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  12. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    misleading voters on when\where to vote is wrong

    is identity theft a crime, saying your someone you're not, or is it just free speech - do you have a right to say you are whoever you want - not all speech is protected

    a hacker is just sending information, free speech to a company, it's how they respond that allows him to commit a crime, is that free speech, did they voluntarily give him access
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
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  13. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Yes, but just because something is wrong does not automatically mean it is right to make it illegal, and also it is not really entirely clear that anyone was misled. A person would have to be incredibly stupid to be misled by this. And, in my opinion, if they were that stupid and poorly informed, they should probably not be voting at all.
     
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  14. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    when it comes to voting, I am ok with it being illegal to mislead people about the time, location, etc of voting

    this has been the law forever, I have known this sense little that this was wrong

    if one could vote the entire month of November, not as big a deal, but time and location is important
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
  15. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    I think you are using overgeneralizations in this argument.
    Of course there exist certain types of situations where misleading people about voting should be made illegal, but I think it is unreasonable to take that and then say it justifies making any situation illegal where someone misleads someone else about voting.
    This type of thing sets a precedent that allows posts on sites like Twitter to be criminalized. (Of course, probably many of those on the Left don't see any problem with that)

    It's also very likely that the person in the story was politically targeted.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
  16. DEFinning

    DEFinning Well-Known Member Donor

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    LOL-- "politically targeted," while breaking the law.

    No, I get your meaning: they probably focused on the ones trying to deprive people of their vote, only on the Right, while ignoring all those on the Left, doing the same thing... That's what you think, right?
    Not that people on the Left, weren't doing anything of the sort?
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
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  17. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I think the punishment changes based on that, but it's still a crime, during sentencing they can take that into account
     
  18. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I was shocked to see people in republican States get caught voting for dead people, then get a hand slap.... course they voted for Trump

    Republicans finally catch some voting for dead people, could make an example of them.... and choose not too
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
  19. Hotdogr

    Hotdogr Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I have a hard time believing that just saying something like that alone would not be 1A protected free speech.

    However, putting an apparatus in place to actually receive those texts, and perhaps gather more information and/or respond with a confirmation message would definitely be criminal.
     
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  20. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I guess we'll soon find out whether 12 Long Islanders can be convinced that an obvious joke deserves jail time...
     
  21. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    That's fair. It sounds more like he just shared a meme that he found.
     
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  22. Lil Mike

    Lil Mike Well-Known Member

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    The thing is, this wasn't a spamming op, they were memes. They were on right wing sites but no where else. I doubt a potential Hillary voter ever saw these.
     
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  23. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    This is more proof to me how much contempt many on the Left have for the First Amendment. Anyone who actually held the idea of free speech sacrosanct would see a problem with this.

    The thing is, there are many people who don't actually hold the concept of free speech in high regard. It's not anywhere near as much of an absolute right to them as it is to more Libertarian-minded persons.
    I'd say it's almost a different idea to them; same word, very different meaning.

    And make no mistake, saying stuff like this "isn't really free speech", is a slippery slope.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
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  24. Lil Mike

    Lil Mike Well-Known Member

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    Stuff like this is actually the bottom of the slippery slope.
     
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  25. GrayMan

    GrayMan Well-Known Member

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    Frankly if you are dumb enough to believe you can voe by texting, you probably should not be voting on my future or the future of my children. His joke may have actually have been a service to this country.
     
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